Phantom Stranger #1 Review (

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012

While I enjoyed Phantom Stranger #0 I can certainly understand the views of those who felt there was no need to give the Phantom Stranger a complete origin, preferring that it remain as mysterious as the character himself.  And the thing is…well if the New 52 of the DC Universe has taught us anything it is that nothing is written in stone.  Who knows…in ten years another writer might come along and completely change his origin yet again.  So that’s the reason I’m not going to get too caught up in the character’s origin.  But…the Phantom Stranger has always been one of my favorite DC characters and I do have a problem with him being…a bit of a jerk and that’s putting it nicely.

The character was revealed in #0 to be Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus and is now making amends for his sin by following the directives of The Voice (i.e. God) and each time he completes a task, one of the coins he received for selling out Jesus falls from his necklace.  While the old Phantom Stranger seemed to intervene when the mood suited him, this version will end up betraying all those in whose lives he intervenes.  This is played out for shock value when the Stranger distracts a young boy while he’s chasing his soccer ball into the street where he is struck and killed by a car.  The sole purpose of the fateful and deadly meeting was so the Stranger could encounter a young empathy name Rachel who shows up at the funeral to try to ease the pain of the grieving family.

The empathy turns out to be the daughter of the demon Trigon and the Stranger tells her he can help her learn to use her powers.  When disciples of the Church of Blood arrive to abduct Rachel, the Stranger teleports her to safety.  But remember what we said about the Stranger betraying those he encounters?  

Look I’m willing to give this book a chance because I love the character and I believe…no I HOPE that writer Dan Didio has something more up his sleeve with the Stranger’s actions as well as the startling revelation that the book ends with. Frankly If it’s not I’m going to be one disappointed Phantom Stranger fan.  I do quite enjoy the art of Anderson and Tan…they deliver a gritty, sketchy look that is similar to the art of Stephen Bissette from his days on Swamp Thing. 

Mania Grade: C+
Comic: The Phantom Stranger #1 (New 52)
Written By: Dan Didio
Art By: Brent Anderson and Philip Tan
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99